Our partners at Pro Farmer are kicking off its annual Crop Tour this week. Teams of scouts will depart from Columbus, Ohio on the East and Sioux Falls, South Dakota on the West. Over the next four days, they will take thousands of samples from fields in seven states, eventually ending in Rochester, Minnesota.
Pro Farmer says its methods have not changed over its 24 year history, which produces consistent results. On Friday, Pro Farmer will announce its estimates for the 2016 corn and soybean crops, but they say the in-field observations can be just as important as the data. We are covering the East this week. We talked with farmers in Northwest Ohio about this year’s dry conditions.
Joe Barker remembers 2015 rains all too well.
“This field behind us here a year ago was less than 90 bushel per acre corn,” says Paulding County, Ohio farmer, Joe Barker.
But last year’s headache is this season’s need.
“We have a more attractive crop than we did a year ago, but a lot of damage has been done with dry conditions through July,” says Barker.
Barker says what started as great emergence changed once the water shut off. He received under an inch and a half of rain this month as of August 19 and a quarter of an inch in July. That’s not early enough for the crop to thrive.
“We know we’re looking at a significant reduction of what we would consider our normal corn crop,” says Barker.
What’s helping the crop is humidity and lingering overcast clouds.
“That humidity is retaining what little moisture we have. That can’t help but be a blessing in the long run,” says Barker.
Barker believes soybeans hold a lot of promise.
“We need to put beans in those pods if we want anything to run through the combine. We could be looking at or above average soybeans. That’s assuming we can get a good rain,” says Barker.
Despite the lack of rainfall, farmers we talked to are surprised with how well the crop is holding up.
“For the dry weather we had, I’m surprised that it looks this nice. I just hope it gets some kernel depth on it,” says Defiance County, Ohio farmer, Rollie Wolfrum.
Rollie Wolfrum is also short on water.
“We had good potential, 170 or 180 bushel per acre corn here. That is really good for this area. Right now, I’m hoping for ma140 bushels per acre,” says Wolfrum.
He says the results of dry conditions are obvious in his fields as well.
“It’s not from lack of nitrogen in the soil. It’s from lack of rain bringing the nitrogen into the plant,” says Wolfrum.
While all the corn may not look like years prior, he also has high hopes for a good soybean crop.
“We have a lot of potential for beans. If we get the right kind of rains here in the next couple of weeks, we can easily add ten percent,” says Wolfrum.
Late rains should help tack on bushels, but regardless of how much goes through the combine, there’s one thing on the minds of producers.
“Unfortunately for us, most of the price goes by the rain and the outlooks in the ‘I’ States. So, we’re getting a double-whammy,” says Wolfrum.
Wolfrum is a seed salesman. He says some of his customers made a last minute switch to plant beans this year since planting was so late. He estimates twenty percent of corn acres were switched to soybeans.